Climate leadership from mayors of the world

Mexico's urban sustainability leader Martha Delgado Peralta shares her views on leadership and transforming polluted cities ahead of GLOBE 2014

Martha Delgado is a leading figure in the environmental movement involved in political society in Mexico. Her leadership results from over twenty years of experience in various civil society organisations dedicated to sustainable development and fifteen years of experience in public administration at the federal and local levels.

GLOBE spoke with Martha about her work with the Global Cities Covenant on Climate Secretariat ahead of her participation at the upcoming GLOBE 2014 Conference, taking place in Vancouver, Canada, from March 26-28. 

GLOBE: From 2006-2012, you served as Mexico City’s Minister of Environment and were involved with the development of its Climate Action Plan, “Plan Verde” (Green Plan), and Bicycle Mobility Strategy.  What was the single greatest challenge for you in engaging a mega-city with a population the size of Mexico City’s to take widespread action?

MD: Mexico City used to be known as the most polluted city in the world. Converting this old image into a very different one was our challenge – it can´t be done just by organizing a good communications campaign. The vision, goals, and citizens’ behavior must be transformed in order to transform the city into a great place for living.

GLOBE: You now serve as the Director General of the Global Cities Covenant on Climate Secretariat.  From your experience, what are three of the top actions that cities around the world can take in order to adapt their communities to a changing climate?

MD:Sustainable transportation must be strongly promoted as a priority for Mayors and municipal governments.  Private sector must make commitments to energy efficiency programs. And citizens should rethink and change their entire consumption patterns.

GLOBE: Many cities around the world are making unprecedented investments in sustainability, but lingering challenges remain about measuring and reporting on the success of these initiatives. What are some of the key metrics and performance indicators that can be used to measure and track a cities progress to becoming more “resilient”?

MD:Definitely having an Adaptation Program for the city is a very good way to start. It should include the evaluation of the risks for those cities, and also the strategies and actions to take for reducing their vulnerability. Some important indicators are also related to the ability of a city to react to climate disasters, the investments on infrastructure to prepare the city for extreme weather events, and the level of awareness of the citizens about these challenges.

GLOBE: You will be joining other urban sustainability leaders from around the world at GLOBE 2014 this March 26-28 in Vancouver, Canada, as a speaker in the “Building Resilient Cities” theme.  What message do you hope to bring to the international delegates and audience that will be attending GLOBE 2014?

MD:Despite of the strong leadership and extraordinary work displayed for UNFCCC climate negotiations, national governments have been uncommitted, with low levels of ambition coming from the negotiators.

The great hope for fighting global warming is found in the leadership of the mayors of the world, those with fewer resources but a greater understanding and vision, who are taking strong and inspiring actions to reduce GHG emissions and adapt their communities to global warming.  Local governments should be recognized and supported in order to exercise this leadership and assume these big responsibilities.

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